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In A Disused Graveyard -- Robert Frost

Guest poem submitted by R. Lakshminarainan:
(Poem #1472) In A Disused Graveyard
 The living come with grassy tread
 To read the gravestones on the hill;
 The graveyard draws the living still,
 But never anymore the dead.
 The verses in it say and say:
 "The ones who living come today
 To read the stones and go away
 Tomorrow dead will come to stay."
 So sure of death the marbles rhyme,
 Yet can't help marking all the time
 How no one dead will seem to come.
 What is it men are shrinking from?
 It would be easy to be clever
 And tell the stones: Men hate to die
 And have stopped dying now forever.
 I think they would believe the lie.
-- Robert Frost
Frost is quite indisputably the master of images. I can still remember
the intense reverie of meaning I experienced, when I first read this
poem. We have heard and heard too much, about death - its ultimacy, its
indefatigability and the utter hopelessness. We have heard a few say how
one must succumb to it with little resistance, and another - how one
must "rage against it." In all its varied essences and flavours, death
stands apart with one single unchanging attribute - the finality.

Which is why these fifteen lines shine stark in significance. Frost in a
single image, hooks the finality of images of death in one big question
mark, where neither the mortal men nor the waiting grave will achieve
the final victory. The graveyard, the elemental metaphor for a fullstop,
has brimmed without space, and now the roles are reversed. Though the
living still come and visit loved ones, the graveyard will never again
see them dead. The eternal wisdom in what the grave takes pride in
uttering to generations of men - "The ones who living come today/ To
read the stones and go away/ Tomorrow dead will come to stay." is
shattered. The certitude of the marble grounds is now jarring because,
neither the graveyard nor the wisdom has escaped what it celebrates so
tirelessly - death itself. And to the nether-land that wonders in
shrouting suspicion, "What hate men in me? Why don't they come to my
laps anymore?" one might just say "Men hate to die. And they will not
anymore."

As one tries to explain and the other to believe in this
mock-hypothesis, is not Death and all its allied emotions and images
failed metaphors? Do we really see Death and does wisdom really dawn or
are we merely fooling ourselves like the graveyard?

R. Lakshminarainan.

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